Alderman John Nash & Nash's Almshouse's

  • 15 Jan 2012
  • Worcester People and Places
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Alderman John Nash
In New Street there is a fine half-timbered building known as Nash's House. It takes it's name from Alderman John Nash, Mayor, and twice representative of the City in Parliament during Charles 1 reign. He was born of a wealthy family of clothiers in 1590, at a time when Worcester was the largest clothing manufacturing town in the country, employing 8,000 people of 380 looms. The lengths of white cloth made in the City were called either Long Worcesters or short Worcesters, according to their length. In his 72 years, Nash was a Roundhead Captain of Horse, politician, local administrator, and successful merchant. He was the collateral ancestor of the Nashes of Martley and Somers-Cocks family. In the revolutionary days of the Commonwealth, he as a J.P. married couples in the Cornmarket. A church service being then regarded as unnecessary.

Apart from his Hospital charity, he left £300 from which young men could borrow free of interest to set themselves up in business. Records say the scheme worked well, none abusing their privilege. Various parishes had money to apprentice young lads. John Nash's tomb is in St.Helen's Church, near his old enemy, Colonel Dud Dudley. He left 5s. to the Town Clerk: 'so far as relates to his charitable bequests, to be publically read by the Town Clerk at the Guildhall of the said city, on the first Friday in Lent and he to receive for his trouble 5s'. The present Town Clerk has never read it and it is unlikely that this has been done this century; nor does it appear that the loan to young men to set them up in business has operated for a very long time.

Nash's Almshouses

Off New Street are Nash's Almshouses, originally intended, like St.Oswald's and Berkeley's for the aged, and to be known as Nash's Hospital. It still occupies the original site, and has given the name Nash's Passage to the narrow way in which it was approached. John Nash, in his will dated 1661, 'gave and devised to 16 trustees, property to be held in trust for pious and charitable uses'. but five acres of land, the site of the Royal Infirmary. Further almshouse were built on part of that land, which some years ago was demolished at the side of the old Cattle Market. The 25 old folk lived rent free, with a small pension, free coal and light, and had other benefits.

The New Street Hospital was not an altogether original foundation, for almshouses known as Throgmorton's had previously stood on the same site, and appeared to have been occupied chiefly, but not exclusively, by worn out soldiers. The site abutted on the City Walls, and after the seiges of the Civil War, it is conveivable that Throgmorton's almshouses became derelict, whilst the Civic exchequer, depleted y the fines of that war, was inadequate for their restoration, and Alderman Nash's endowment provided an opportune resource. Nash's house in New Street dates from the 16th century, and was probably built by John Nash's grandfather, for John was born there. It is likely that during the Royalist occupation of Worcester, Nash had fled the City, and that Dud Dudley, who wrote that when the war ended, his house in Worcester had been seized, and his wife turned out-of-doors, had occupied it. Dud further says that he produced shot for the garrison of Worcester, and when the recent restoration took place in 1963, the remains of a shot tower was found and destroyed.